Monday, November 5, 2001


John Philip Murray

Vangard Gallery, Cork

It may be stating the obvious, but artists are continually influenced by all manner of visual stimuli. Becoming emotionally attached or seduced by the most discrete and anonymous of things is an occupational hazard. John Philip Murray is a good example of how an artist finds inspiration in the small details of his surroundings - for this body of work it just happened to be Roman mosaics in Tunisia.

But this was more than just a starting point, as he has formed a literal relationship to the source, faithfully capturing individual tiles, the surrounding cement and the geometric patterns and motifs. In a sense his approach is an extension to that of the academic salons, where an artist pays homage to those who went before.

There is, however, intervention by the artist as he makes important decisions regarding balance and tension within the compositions. But as the imagery is more or less solved by the mosaic template itself, Murray is able to immerse himself in the business of establishing a vital painted surface. The result is an interesting dialogue between quite heavy impasto and the delicate layering of paint. By extension, colour is allowed to assume prominence, as the painter mixes subtle tonal interchanges which bask in an evocation of desert sands and faded antiquity.
Mark Ewart